Wins for Nadal, Murray, Soderling at French Open
Paris: On a day when swirling winds sent the red dirt flying at Roland Garros, top seed Rafael Nadal, the man he beat in last year's final, Robin Soderling, and Andy Murray all said they were happy to win through to the French Open third round despite not playing at their best.
"Brutal" was how Murray described the conditions out on the Philippe Chatrier centre court during his hard-fought 7-6 (7/3), 6-4, 7-5 win over Simone Bolelli of Italy.
"You just have to try and win," was how he described his own simplistic tactical approach to the tie.
"Just not worry about how you hit the ball or anything else. I was happy with the way I fought back from two very difficult situations in the first and third sets when he was serving for it and hung in well when I needed to.”
"So not worried about how I was hitting the ball today."
It was all in stark contrast to the previous day when hot and sunny conditions prevailed and there was little wind to speak of.
Overnight the temperature plunged and dark clouds rolled in from the west to hang over the Roland Garros claycourts.
Soderling was first up and although he came through relatively easily 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 against Spanish qualifier Albert Ramos, he admitted that it had been tough to play his best tennis.
"It was tough to feel really perfect. But overall, a win in straight sets is always good," he said after going through to a third round matchup against Leonardo Mayer of Argentina who scored a straight sets win over former Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus.
It was tougher even still for the man who beat him in last year's final here as Nadal once again struggled to impose his peerless claycourt game on a lowly-ranked opponent.
In the first round it was giant American John Isner who led Nadal by two sets to one before losing in five and this time it was 48-ranked compatriot Pablo Andujar who gave him a tough workout before losing 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4).
In particular Andujar exposed the weaknesses in Nadal's serve that have been in evidence during his four losses this year to Novak Djokovic.
He had a total of 16 break points in the three sets and was able to break the Nadal serve five times.
Fortunately for the defending champion, he was able to attack his opponent's serve and broke seven times to chalk up his 40th win against one loss at Roland Garros since he first played in 2005.
Andujar will especially regret the nine set points he failed to convert in the third set allowing Nadal to claw his way back from 1-5 down to win 7/4 in a tie-break.
"For a moment today I played better, but in general the match wasn't good for me - not because of the wind though," Nadal said.
"I am practising well, but not playing well when I play matches - no excuses.”
"The conditions can have an effect, but it's better to find solutions inside myself than outside. “
"My movement is still a little bit slow. I am not happy, but I am here. The beginning of Roland Garros is always tough for me."
Among those also through in the top half of the draw were Croatian veteran Ivan Ljubicic, who beat Sam Querrey of the United States 7-6 (7/2), 6-4, 6-4, Spain's Fernando Verdasco, who ousted Xavier Malisse of Belgium 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/5), 6-1 and Alejandro Falla of Colombia, who defeated Florian Mayer of Germany 4-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-1, 6-2.
Mardy Fish meanwhile kept the American flag flying, just, with a 7-6 (7/1), 6-2, 6-1 win over Robin Haase of the Netherlands. He is the sole American survivor into the third round.
Seeded 10th, and the top-ranking American ahead of close friend Andy Roddick, Fish is into the third round here for the first time at his sixth attempt and having reached his goal, believes there could be more to come.
"Sure it was a goal, but it was a pretty light goal," he said.
"I want to go further than the third round obviously."